Look Up! The Ceiling Edit

October 11, 2023


Why stop with the walls? Adding color to the ceiling creates an immersive experience upon entering a space.

“In the field house of our Berkshires Retreat, we opted to add an accent to the ceiling rather than going for a highly decorative wall treatment, in order to create a connection between the sports court and the lofted game room. The owners are a super active family and wanted to be able to hang out and use the space for all sorts of sports, so the walls needed to be durable and ready for anything – the application of the wallpaper in the lofted space was custom fit at the crossed gable, and provided more impact than would have been possible with the minimal walls in that area. It wasn’t in the original plan, but seeing the all-white space as the project progressed felt a bit empty and expansive, so we convinced the client to add that last touch and really ground the space,” says senior designer Irina Casale, AIA.

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Many of our place-based designs would be incomplete without exposed-beam architecture. From the Hamptons to Nantucket, the Catskills to Nashville, each of these locales has its own tradition of barn-style pitched roofing. Used to support the vaulted ceiling, these wooden elements bring softness and historical appeal into so many different types of structures.


In this Upper East Side residence, sculptural ceiling details seem to have a life of their own. Founding principal Matt Berman explains, “We used the movement in both parts of the ceiling to help guide you between different zones in the apartment. We wanted to incorporate an organic design language here that broke from the sharp, modern lines found throughout this home.  For this ceiling, we carved sweeping curves out of high-density foam, and then plastered over them and painted them to give the look of a space come alive. Throughout the kitchen, dining and living rooms, the dimensional elements create subtle boundaries in the otherwise open floorplan.”

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DDP 9244 Web


For an exceptionally adventurous client, the ceiling became a surface for experimentation. At the Central Park Duplex, the powder room ceiling is an LED screen with a rotation of custom moving images and videos, filling the room with color and nature even within a windowless box. The same client also embraced the idea of a dining room ceiling that opens up to echo the park outside, peeling apart to reveal a mossy installation with a dandelion chandelier hanging from the center. Look at the table below for a continuation of the flower motif, with custom gold inlays of fallen seeds.


In the dining space of our Palm Beach Retreat, an organically-shaped pop up communicates directly with the custom dining table below – a Workshop Collection bespoke product first devised for this project. A cluster of pendant lights in varying shapes comprise a freeform chandelier, playing into the cutout to add verticality to the room.

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KO4 WorkshopAPD McKendree Finals 12


A coffered ceiling can pay homage to the ornamental ceilings of antiquity, especially when modernized in pre-war NYC apartments.

“The coffered ceilings in this Park Ave gallery space defined three zones in the entry, so we used a floor pattern and lights that play along. Inspired by a herringbone floor, we enlarged the pattern in marble and opened it to 90 degrees, instead of the traditional 45, to lean into the rectangular molding. The style of light was used to pick up the angular design, and the alternating crosses maintain a vertical symmetry as you pass through the space,” details Brook Quach, design director and senior associate at Workshop/APD.